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Tequila still hangs on to its international reputation as a party drink to be slammed, but Mexicans have long enjoyed a more relaxing and refreshing way of drinking their national drink: from a big clay pot.
Cantaritos pots are typically filled with a powerful cocktail of tequila and fruit juices, and are especially popular in the state of Jalisco, where most tequila is produced.
The drink is available in bars across much of the state and is even sold at the hawker stalls leading into Jalisco’s traditional tequila-producing towns.
Visitors to the picturesque Mexican village of Amatitán, in the heart of tequila country, often indulge in a cantaritos on their trip, and the empty clay pot doubles up as a fitting souvenir of their visit.
Since 1997, Amatitán’s El Guero bar has been serving the traditional drink to thirsty tourists. Overlooking rolling hills lined with countless rows of spiky blue agave plant, the open-air bar is situated in the ideal location to enjoy tequila like a Mexican.
The cocktail is made by filling the pot with ice cubes, lime and grapefruit juice, a fizzy grapefruit soda called Squirt and a generous dose of tequila. The fizzing concoction is stirred with a knife and a touch of salt is added to offset the acidity.
At El Guero bar, customers can buy cantaritos in a range of sizes. The smallest contains about a half-liter of the drink, while an extra-large pot requires that customers use a two-handed grip so they can take it back to their table.
Some visitors sip directly from the smaller containers, although for the larger cantaritos a straw is essential.
The venue offers a broad range of tequilas, from the harsher blanco (white) varieties to the extra añejo (ultra-aged) spirits that have spent at least three years in oak barrels.
Yet while luxury tequilas have been soaring in popularity, both in Mexico and abroad, most clientele opt for the cheap and cheerful alternatives.
In fact, using premium brands seems a bit out of sorts with the cocktail. The focus of a true cantaritos experience should not be savouring luxurious tastes, but sharing memorable experiences. This really is a drink to huddle around with a group of your closest friends.